“Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide”

“ABIDE WITH ME, ‘TIS EVENTIDE”
“But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward
evening, and the day is far spent…”
(Lk. 24:29)

     INTRO.: A hymn asking the Lord to abide with us which is based upon the story of Cleopas and the other disciple who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus is “Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide.” The text was written by Martin Lowrie Hofford (1825-1888). Another hymn of his which has appeared in several of our books is “Are You Walking in His Footsteps?” The tune was composed by Harrison Millard, who was born on Nov. 27, 1829, at Boston, MA. At the age of eight, he was admitted into a Boston choir as a boy alto, and at ten sang in the chorus of the Handel and Haydn Society. At about age fifteen, his voice changed to tenor and on one occasion during the absence of the principal tenor, he sang in the oratorio Samson.

     In 1851, Millard went to Europe where studied for three years under the best masters in Italy, spent some time in London appearing as a tenor singer, and traveled with Catherine Haynes through Ireland and Scotland.  During this time, he produced a lot of music and was a contributor to Dwight’s Journal of Music along with other publications. In 1854, he came back to America and settled in Boston where he gave vocal lessons and sang at concerts. After two years, he moved to New York City, NY, and in 1859 completed his first important song, “Viva La America,” which became very successful. During the Civil War, he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 19th New York Regiment. Severely wounded at the Battle of Chicamauga after four years of service, he was deemed unfit for duty and sent home. After the war, he was offered a job in a custom house, which he held until about 1881.

     Millard’s works consist of around 300 songs, including a patriotic anthem, “Flag of the Free;” some 400 adaptions of French, German, and Italian works; several anthems and other works for chorus; and an Italian opera in four acts named Deborah. “Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide” was first published in the 1884 Gospel Melodies, which Millard edited for S. T. Gordon of New York. Millard returned to Boston, MA, where he died on Sept. 10, 1895. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.

     The song talks about several of the blessings that we can have by walking with Christ.

I. Stanza 1 says that He will be a welcomed Guest in our hearts
“Abide with me, ’tis eventide! The day is past and gone;
The shadows of the evening fall. The night is coming on!
Within my heart a welcome Guest, Within my home abide.”
 A. As evening comes and the day is past and gone, it is good to turn our thoughts to the Lord: Ps. 141:2
 B. But as the evening shadows fall, they also remind us that someday the night of life is coming too: Jn. 9:4
 C. Therefore, we should always want the Lord as a welcome Guest, dwelling in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:17

II. Stanza 2 says that He will fill our soul and keep us near His side
“Abide with me, ’tis eventide! Thy walk today with me
Has made my heart within me burn, As I communed with Thee.
Thy earnest words have filled my soul And kept me near Thy side.”
 A. Each day we can walk with Christ, not literally as the two disciples did, but spiritually as we walk by faith: Lk. 24:13-15, 2 Cor. 5:7
 B. The words that He has spoken and left us in His word should make our hearts burn with in us as a fire in our bones: Jer. 20:9, Lk. 24:32
 C. These words will help us draw near to Him and keep us near His side: Jas. 4:8

III. Stanza 3 says that He will provide light for our pathway
“Abide with me, ’tis eventide! And lone will be the night,
If I cannot commune with Thee, Nor find in Thee my light.
The darkness of the world, I fear, Would in my home abide.”
 A. Life would be lonely if we could not commune with Christ, but thankfully He has promised that He will always be with us: Matt. 28:20
 B. Not only does He provide cheer for our hearts but also light for our pathway because He is the Light of the world: Jn. 8:12
 C. Darkness is often used to represent the sin and evil in the world that Satan wants to dwell within us, but the light of Christ dispels it: 1 Jn. 1:5-7

     CONCL.: The chorus asks the Savior to stay with us during the eventide.
“O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, ’tis eventide!
O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, ’tis eventide!”
As I come to the end of each day, it is good to be able to look back and know that I have walked with Christ in the things that I have done.  Then, as I come to closer to the end of life, it is even better to be able to look back and know that I have walked with Christ to the best of my ability as long as I could. During such times, I should always be wanting my Savior to “Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide.”

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